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Make Your Real Estate Website Visible!

So, you've created a Website to highlight your realty services and listings. Now all you have to do is wait for the customers to roll in -- right? Wrong. Putting up a Website is only the first step. Now you have to fine tune your site's descriptors to boost its search engine ranking when prospective clients explore the Internet hunting for a REALTORĀ®. It does you little good to have a Website if no one can find it. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take that increase your odds of being noticed when buyers or sellers turn to the Web to find a real estate agent.

Ideally, it pays to have a meaningful Website address (also known as a Universal Resource Locator, or "URL"). Instead of your own or a realty name, your Website address should reflect the geographic area(s) where your services are targeted or any specialties on which you focus. For instance, if you farm housing tracts in north Austin, then good choices for a URL might be www.northaustinhomes.com, www.homes-northaustin.com, or www.real-estate-north-austin.com. Using these, search engines are more likely to give you a higher placement when someone searches for "homes (or real estate) in north austin" than a competitive realty which services the same area but does not include the term "north austin" in their Website address. The key to achieving a higher ranking among search-engine returns is to be as specific as possible when casting your Internet "fishing net."

There is more you can do to enhance your search engine ranking. While the following discussion may sound technical, only new terminology is involved. The actual steps themselves are easy to implement.

"Tags" are descriptors in the underlying HyperText Markup Language (HTML) code which format Webpages. They contain important information that Internet search engines use to index your Website. This data is then compared to search information entered by engine users. Your Web authoring tool may allow you to enter Tag information without having to bother with HTML code. If not, don't panic! You don't have to become a Website programmer to manually insert critical data into your HTML code. Adding or modifying Tag information is surprisingly simple.

Whether or not your Web authoring tool allows you to enter Tag information, simply follow the advice given below to enhance your Website's visibility to search engines. If necessary, download a shareware HTML editor and use it to open your main Webpage, choosing the function that makes the HTML code appear. Selida and EditPlus are two good HTML editors which are offered free for thirty days.

On your PC or Web hosting site, open your main Webpage (usually "index.htm" or "index.html"). Maneuver to the Meta Tag entry functions within your authoring software or else bring up your Webpage within an editor so that the HTML code is visible.

To achieve higher search engine placing, it is important to have meaningful page Titles, especially for your main (i.e., home) page. The "Title" Tag for each Webpage is embedded in the HTML code. Look near the top of the page to find a line that reads xxxxx where "xxxxx" is the current name assigned to your Webpage. In some cases, you may not even have a Title. If so, enter it directly into the HTML code immediately below the Tag using the above format.

Make the Webpage Title something meaningful, using words that a person searching for homes in North Austin, for example, would likely type in the Google or Yahoo search engine (e.g., "North Austin Homes").

Following the Title Tag, you should see a Meta Tag: where the data between the quotation marks is your name (or the name of the company that prepared your Website). It is a good idea to have this data consist of your name and the name of your realty. For example: That way, if someone is searching for you or your realty on the Web, there is a better chance they will find your Website.

Now, carefully choose the Keywords that describe your Website offerings. These should also be words or phrases that a potential buyer or seller would use in conducting an Internet search. Again, the more specific you can be the better. In our example, you would might include "north austin homes" as one keyword phrase. Perhaps "real estate agents in north austin" would be another good choice. Don't worry about being case sensitive. Ask your family, friends and fellow REALTORS for ideas. You can even see what Keywords high-ranking competitors are using by going to their Website and selecting View/Source on your browser.

Enter your new keywords and phrases using your Web authoring tool or an HTML editor. When using the latter, look near the top of the page and you will find another Meta Tag that reads The words in-between the quotation marks following CONTENT are your Keywords. Erase the old ones if you wish and enter your new words or phrases, separating each by a comma. It is best to keep the number of entries under a dozen, and be sure to place the most important ones first.

Looking at the HTML code, you should see directly below the Keywords Meta Tag. This is where you enter the text that a person using a search engine will see in the returned results, so make it descriptive and enticing. In our example, perhaps you would enter "Find your dream home by working with the number one realty in North Austin. Special programs for first-time buyers." Keep it concise but make it a marketing message. After all, your objective is to get a prospective client to visit your Website.

A final piece of advice ? try to use your Keywords in the text on your main (i.e., Home) Webpage, as this reinforces your focus to Internet search engines. When finished making revisions, remember to save your changes and upload modified Webpages to your hosting vendor. Then be sure to re-submit changed Webpages to the major search engines ? Google, Yahoo, and MSN for sure - and directories (e.g., Google, Yahoo and the Open Directory). After submitting, it can sometimes take weeks or months for a search engine to categorize your changes. Be patient. Periodic checks using your important Keywords in each search engine will alert you to when the changes begin to take effect.

Al Kernek is a real estate broker and author of "Creating E-Mail Newsletters ? A Practical Guide for the Real Estate Community." To learn more about how to increase real estate sales using low-cost Internet marketing techniques, visit http://www.renewsletter.com

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